Louise Nevelson® sculpted assemblages from found wood objects and painted them all one color, most notably black. She went on to brilliantly use other materials, e.g. Cor-Ten steel, aluminum, Plexiglas. Her unique process transformed everyday materials into compositions that transcended space and altered the viewer's perception of art. Exhibition rooms of monochromatic works on the floor, walls and sometimes hanging from the ceiling, allowed the visitor passage through her world of the mysterious, of the fourth dimension.
Nevelson also considered her persona as an extension of the sculptures and delightfully collaged ethnic clothing with jewelry, her head wrapped in scarves and riding hats, and eyes highlighted with layers of velvety black mink eyelashes into a unique fashion, making Eleanor Lambert's "Best Dressed International Women" fashion list in 1977.
Photographers found a fascinating subject in Louise Nevelson® and Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, Cecil Beaton, Pedro E. Guererro, Jack Mitchell, Marie Cosindas, Diana Mackown, Arnold Newman, and Richard Avedon, to name "a few", have given us memorable portraits of this captivating grande dame of the art world.
Louise Nevelson® was celebrated in her lifetime. She received numerous recognitions, e.g. National Medal of the Arts, Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in Sculpture, National Arts Club Gold Medal in the Visual Arts, American Institute of Architects Medal, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and awarded two magnificent commissions - the "Louise Nevelson Plaza" an outdoor environmental park in Lower Manhattan and the indoor environmental "Nevelson Chapel" of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter's Church in Midtown Manhattan. Major museums, municipalities, and esteemed private collections worldwide avidly purchased her works and still do so today.
1899 Born September 23 in Pereiaslav near Kiev, Russia. Isaac Berliawsky and Anne Minna Ziesel Smolerank had four children: Nathan, Louise, Anita and Lillian.
1905 The family moved to the United States and settled in Rockland, Maine where Isaac eventually established a lumber business and bought, sold and built houses.
1918 Graduated from Rockland High School.
1920 Married Charles Nevelson and moved to New York.
Studied voice with Metropolitan Opera Coach, Estelle Liebling, New York.
1922 Son Myron (Mike) was born.
1926 Studied dramatics with Norina Matchabelli, New York.
1929-30 Studied at the Art Students League with Kenneth Hayes Miller and Kimon Nicolaides, New York.
1931 Separates from Charles Nevelson.
Studied with Hans Hofmann in Munich.
1932 Studied with Hans Hofmann in New York.
1933 Assistant to Diego Rivera; worked on mural for The New Workers’ School, New York. Socializes with Diego and Frida Kahlo.
1934 Studied sculpture with Chaim Gross at the Educational Alliance Art School, New York; classes taught in Yiddish.
1935 Taught art under Works Progress Administration (WPA) at Flatbush Boys Club, New York.
1936-39 Taught art under Works Progress Administration (WPA), New York.
1941 FIRST solo exhibition at the Nierendorf Gallery, New York.
1943 Minna Berliawsky died.
1945 Berliawsky Family purchased house for Louise Nevelson on East 30th Street, New York.
1946 Isaac Berliawsky died.
1947 Studied etching with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17, New York.
1948-49 Worked at the Sculpture Center, New York in terra-cotta and stone.
1950 - Active in may organizations: Artists Equity; Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors; National Association of Women Artists; Sculptors Guild; League of Present Day Artists; New York Society of Ceramic Arts; American Abstract Artists.
1950-51 Made one trip to Mexico and another to Guatemala to see Pre-Columbian art.
1953 Four O’Clock Forum Sunday, panel discussions for artists, held at 30th Street house.
Studied with Peter Grippe and Leo Katz at Atelier 17, New York.
1954 Produces first series of wood landscape sculptures.
Member, Sculptor’s Guild.
1955 First solo show at Grand Central Moderns, New York, “Ancient Games and Ancient Places”.
1956 Whitney Museum of American Art acquired Black Majesty.
1957 The Brooklyn Museum acquired First Personage.
Director-at-Large of the New York Chapter of Artists Equity (1957-59).
1958 The Museum of Modern Art acquired Sky Cathedral.
Purchased house at 29 Spring Street, New York.
Solo show at Grand Central Moderns, New York, “Moon Garden + One”.
1959 Solo show at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, “Sky Columns Presence”.
Group show at Museum of Modern Art, New York, “16 Americans”; exhibits Dawns Wedding Feast.
1959-60 Member, National Association of Women Artists.
1960 Received Logan Award from The Art Institute of Chicago for work shown in "63rd American Exhibition."
First solo show at Daniel Cordier Gallery, Paris.
1961 First solo show at Pace Gallery Boston.
Solo show at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, “Royal Tides”.
1962 Sculpture included in United States Pavilion, XXXI Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, Venice. Met Alberto Giacometti.
Whitney Museum of American Art acquired Young Shadows.
Affiliated with the Sidney Janis Gallery; their first American sculptor and first woman.
1963 Fellowship at Tamarind Workshop, Los Angeles, where she completed an edition of 26 lithographs; June Wayne, Founder.
President of the National Artists Equity.
1964 First monograph “Louise Nevelson” by Colette Roberts, Paris.
1965 The Israel Museum in Jerusalem acquired Homage to 6,000,000 II.
Gifted Tate Gallery in London with An American Tribute to the British People.
1966 Honorary degree from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.
Vice-President of the International Association of Artists.
1967 FIRST Retrospective show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
1968 Group show, Documenta III, Kassell, Germany.
1969 FIRST Commissioned monumental Cor-Ten steel sculpture by Princeton University Atmosphere and Environment X.
Edward MacDowell Medal, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Julliard School of Music, New York acquired Nightsphere Light.
Solo show Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Netherlands.
1970 Commissioned 55' wall-sculpture by Temple Beth-El, Great Neck, New York The White Flame of the Six Million.
1971 Creative Arts Award in Sculpture from Brandeis University, Boston.
Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine.
1972 Gift to the City of New York of Cor-Ten steel sculpture Night Presence IV (Park Avenue between 91st and 92nd streets).
Monograph “Louise Nevelson” by Arnold Glimcher.
1973 Commissioned Cor-Ten wall sculpture by Temple Israel, Boston Sky Covenant.
Commissioned by the city of Scottsdale, Arizona, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts Windows to the West.
Commissioned sculpture by the City of Binghamton, New York.
Honorary degree, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
The National Arts Club Gold Medal Visual Arts Award, New York.
Solo show at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Solo show at Studio Marconi, Milan.
1973-75 Walker Art Center Wood Sculptures, large traveling exhibition to San Francisco Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta High Museum, Kansas City Nelson Gallery, Cleveland Museum of Fine Art.
1974 Solo shows at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin and Centre National d’art Contemporain (CNAC), Paris.
1975 Commissioned by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Transparent Horizon, Boston.
Solo show at Minami Gallery, Tokyo.
1976 Commissioned of wood painted white environment for General Services Administration, Federal Courthouse, Philadelphia Bicentennial Dawn. First Lady Betty Ford attended presentation ceremony for the Nation’s two hundredth birthday.
Biography “Dawns and Dusks: Taped Conversations with Diana MacKown” by Diana MacKown.
1977 Installation of wood painted white environment at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church, Erol Beker Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Citicorp Center, New York; conservation begun 2019.
Commission of steel painted black monumental sculpture at Embarcadero Center, San Francisco Sky Tree.
Honorary degree from Columbia University, New York.
The American Institute of Architects Medal for Artistic Contributions to the Art of Architecture.
Best Dressed List.
1978 Installation of seven Cor-Ten steel sculptures at “Louise Nevelson Plaza”, between Liberty Street and Maiden Lane in New York City, Shadows and Flags.
Commission for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the World Trade Center, New York, Sky Gate New York. Destroyed in 2001 by 9/11 Attack.
Honorary degree from Boston University, Massachusetts.
1979 Commission of three major Cor-Ten steel sculptures for Bendix Corporation of America, Headquarters Building, Southfield, Michigan, Trilogy. Re-installed in 1998 in Orchestra Place Building, Detroit.
Awarded President's Medal of the Municipal Art Society of New York, New York.
Elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
Solo show at Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine and traveled to Florida and Arizona.
1980 Whitney Museum of Art retrospective, New York, “Atmospheres and Environments”.
Solo show Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, “Fourth Dimension.”
1981 Solo show Galerie de France, Paris.
1982 The Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal for Achievement of Exceptional Artistic Merit, New York.
1983 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters The Gold Medal for Sculpture, New York.
1984 Designs sets and costumes for “Orfeo and Euridice” at Opera Theatre, St. Louis.
1985 US Congress Award, National Medal of Art presented by US President Ronald Reagan.
Honorary Degree, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.
L’Odre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministere de la Culture, Republique Francaise: Gold Medal.
Athena Award, New York City Commission on the Status of Women, New York.
1986 Liberty Award 1986 City of New York / Edward I. Koch, New York.
Great Artist Series Award, Guggenheim Museum and New York University Gallatin Division, New York.
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.
National Society of Arts and Letters, Empire State Chapter: Gold Medal of Merit, New York.
1987 1987 New York State Governor’s Arts Awards, New York.
1988 Died April 17 at home in New York.
2000 Commemorated by the United States Postal Service with a sheet of Five Stamps, April 2000.
2001 Edward Albee, American Noble Prize Winning Playwright, debuts "Occupant" about his friend Louise Nevelson.
2005 Louise Nevelson Foundation, Inc. established to educate and celebrate the life and art of the American artist Louise Nevelson®.